Wednesday, September 8, 2010

RECAP : Live at Squamish Festival - Day 1

Join us at our proverbial table as we discuss our highlights of this year's inaugural Live at Squamish music festival, which took place on September 4-5, 2010. Alex (of Anders) Cameron and myself, together with a couple of other friends, spent a lovely weekend up in Squamish, B.C., just half an hour outside of Whistler and an hour from downtown Vancouver.

Alex: After much anticipation, Labour Day weekend finally hit, meaning it was time to head up to Squamish for the inaugural year of Live at Squamish. What struck me first of all was the setting; Hendrickson Field and the Logger Sports Grounds are surrounded by forest on all side with the mountains across the background.

Brenda: The mountains truly were spectacular and added wonder to the enjoyment of musical acts. Almost all of the performers commented on what a pleasure it was to play at this little jewel of a festival, nestled in the outdoor sports capital of BC.

Alex: Boasting three stages, the festival grounds felt split into separate areas with one focal stage on Henderickson Field, a club stage in the middle of the logger grounds and another smaller performance stage, each with its own beer garden. Although a little spread out, the stage setup worked really well, leading to practically no amp battles between performances.

Brenda: I’m not one to worry about the presence of beer gardens, especially with the usual over-inflated festival pricing. However, the various bazaars and art displays in between the stages meant you can always give your ears a rest and treat your eyes instead.

Alex: Kostaman and the Good Vibrations was the first band we caught at the main stage, a reggae band from Whistler, BC.

Said the Whale (Photo: Alex Cameron)
Brenda: They got many locals to get up and shake their thing, so we knew we had to represent “our scene” once Vancouver locals Said the Whale took to the stage right after.

Alex: These guys just get better all the time. They brought plenty of people up to the front of the stage (without our help) and got this festival to start moving. It’s always fun to see a crowd cheer that little bit harder when they start up "Camillo (the Magician)."

After moving stages to catch Kelowna’s We Are the City, we ended up listening to the end of Michael Bernard Fitzgerald’s set. Fitzgerald is a singer-songwriter from Calgary and his music is infectious, I wish I could have caught more of his set. There was an amazing and hilarious mash-up of covers from Sir Mix-A-Lot to TLC to Black Eyed Peas… and even a little Justin Bieber. He finished up his set with “Brand New Spaces,” a song of his I’m familiar with, and it was definitely a strong finish. A really talented musician and I can’t wait to see more from him.

(L-R) Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, David Vertesi and Zach Gray (photo: Brenda Lee)
Brenda: As a testament to the rapport between musicians, he had Zachary Gray from The Zolas and David Vertesi of Hey Ocean! on stage to act as lovely back-up dancers.

Now onto We Are the City, one of my favourite young bands. Their growth astounds me and every time I catch them live, they manage to improve upon their last performance. As their prog-rock styling is already so well-developed and they’re so attuned to one another on stage, it’s hard to imagine what the band will be like once guitarist David Menzel leaves the band. David revealed to me that the band’s intense touring schedule post their 2009 Peak Performance Project win is not sustainable for him in the long run, and expressed a desire to start a guitar company.

We Are the City (photo: Alex Cameron)
Alex: We Are the City really owns the stage when they start pumping out the rock; every note is played with such enthusiasm and enjoyment that you can feel they’re loving every second of playing. After such an amazing year for them, I’m surprised to hear that David is leaving the band.

Hollerado (photo: Alex Cameron)
Brenda: After that set, we caught a couple of songs by Calgary's The Dudes who were playing on the main stage. Although enticed by the party atmosphere as evident in the amount of crowd surfers and one guy holding a sign saying “fun patrol,” I had to catch Ottawa’s Hollerado’s headlining set to close out the Serf stage. (They also have the best website ever.)

Alex: The Dudes are awesome but play somewhat mellow compared to Hollerado’s set… and that says something!
Steve Smith of Dirty Vegas (photo: Leigh Elridge)

Brenda: They put on what was easily one of the best (and most enjoyable!) performances of the entire weekend. Not only did they play hits such as “Juliette,” they rocked some awesome covers as well. If you haven’t seen Hollerado live yet, do yourself a favour and remedy that soon. By the end of that set, our feet were in a shuffling and dancing mood. I was itching to dance!

Alex: Matthew Good then took to the main stage, but it was just a little too mellow at that point. So we headed over to the clubZone stage for London house artist Dirty Vegas' live set; they really had the crowd pumped up and it was one of the best DJ sets I’ve seen!

Devo (photo: Leigh Elridge)
Brenda: Hits such as “Days Go By” had the crowd throbbing and kept us warm as the sun went down and the chill set in at dusk. This indie rock kid relearned what it’s like to dance; thanks Dirty Vegas!

Alex: Finally it was time for Devo, whom played a hilarious set of ironic synth pop in their classic 80’s style. Couple this with strange costumes and mostly hilarious visuals on the backing screen, it felt almost like memes waiting to happen.

Brenda: They had more energy than I would have expected. Unfortunately, their set went on for about 5 songs too long. As the rain started drizzling and the strobe lights spazzed on, it was hard to keep the crowd engaged. Oh, but the wonders of seeing “Whip It” live… that’s one check mark on my bucket list!

And next, stay tuned for our thoughts on Day 2 of Live at Squamish featuring You Say Party, Mother Mother and many more!